Suspect in NC police officer’s murder captured in RI

Irving Lucien Fenner Jr. (Shelby Police Department)
Irving Lucien Fenner Jr. (Shelby Police Department)

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — A man suspected of gunning down a North Carolina police officer over the weekend is scheduled to be arraigned in Rhode Island sometime Wednesday night.

Only Eyewitness News was on scene at 2:05 a.m. Wednesday as law enforcement officers took Irving Fenner, 23, into custody on Tiogue Avenue in Coventry.

Fenner, 23, is accused of fatally shooting Officer Tim Brackeen of the Shelby Police Department on Saturday and had been on the run since.

Police said while Brackeen was attempting to arrest Fenner – who was wanted on outstanding robbery and kidnapping charges – a struggle ensued and gunfire broke out. Brackeen was shot in the chest Saturday and died from his injuries on Monday. The 38-year-old served with the Shelby Police Department for 12 years and in 2012 was named officer of the year. He left behind a wife and a daughter.

Days after the shooting, Fenner was spotted on Oxford Street in Providence Tuesday night, setting off a massive search involving local police, U.S. Marshals, and the FBI. At that point, Fenner eluded police, but they later tracked him down to the home in Coventry.

FBI Special Agent Colin Wood said analysis of Fenner’s cell phone, which authorities seized shortly after the shooting, led them to Rhode Island and eventually to Coventry.

“It’s been a long period of time where the detectives and the FBI agents all cultivating information, pretty good police work tracking him here,” said Rhode Island State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell. “And they surrounded the house and they talked him out, and he surrendered. He came out peacefully.”

When police arrested Fenner his head was shaved. Police told Eyewitness News the suspect had tried to elude capture by altering his appearance.

Shelby officer Tim Brackeen, 38, was shot on Saturday. (Police photo)
Shelby officer Tim Brackeen, 38, was shot on Saturday. (Police photo)

State Police Major Joseph Philbin said he called the Shelby Police Department in the middle of the night to tell them they had captured Fenner.

“[The dispatcher] had to take a breath because she was emotional,” Philbin said.

O’Donnell said he was glad his officers could deliver that news to Brackeen’s colleagues.

“I’m not sure ecstatic is the right definition because there are mixed emotions. But, there’s some closure that someone’s going to be held responsible for this,” O’Donnell said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

Suspect Hospitalized

Fenner was taken to Rhode Island Hospital after his capture because he sustained a gunshot wound. Philbin said Fenner was not injured during his capture in Rhode Island but believes the suspect sustained the gunshot wound in his struggle with Brackeen.

“There is a bullet behind his rib cage and they are going to leave it there for now,” Philbin explained.

He said they learned that Fenner was born in Rhode Island, but moved around a lot.

The Target 12 Investigators have learned law enforcement from North Carolina are on the way to Rhode Island to interview Fenner. Philbin said they should be here late Wednesday afternoon. Fenner will then be arraigned as a fugitive from justice at State Police barracks after he is questioned.

Other Suspects

Three other people from Rhode Island face charges of harboring a fugitive and will be arraigned on Wednesday as well.

O’Donnell said Jolisa Peeler, 27, of Providence, is Fenner’s half-sister. She was arrested Tuesday night in Providence after the initial search. She’s being held as a fugitive from justice from the State of North Carolina on a felony warrant for accessory after the fact.

Fenner’s uncle – Corry Peeler, 39, of Coventry – and his girlfriend – Hope Wyman, 39, of Coventry – are both charged with harboring a criminal.

Fenner was previously wanted on outstanding warrants out of Shelby for kidnapping, burglary, and robbery charges. North Carolina authorities have since issued a warrant for first-degree murder.

Multiple other arrests have been made in the case. Ashley Hamrick was apprehended in Shelby on a felony charge of harboring a fugitive. Police said she aided Fenner while he was wanted on the outstanding warrants.

Also arrested were Casey Fenner, of New York, and Deitra Morris, of Shelby, each on a felony charge of accessory after the fact of murder. They’re accused of providing aid to Fenner in the days after the killing, according to police.

Julianne Peixoto contributed to this report.

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